February 02, 2014

211: "Le style, c'est l'homme meme"

Hola Waferinos, and hope u.r. all doing well. The quote is from the Comte de Buffon. Or as a female cousin of mine said years ago, regarding all the awful men she was meeting: Style is content. Let that be the thought for the day. Meanwhile, remember that we are Wafers: Nothing can stop us!


Blogger Jason Tower said...

Do any of you remember the moment you finally lost faith in the US of A? For me it was in May 2002. I was recently graduated from college and I took a trip to Las Vegas with the idea that I might like to move there. After about five hours in that city I knew I would never want to live there. If there is a hell, it is probably something like Las Vegas. I was feeling slightly sick from all the noise and people and I just wanted to find a quiet spot to read a newspaper and drink a cup of coffee. After half an hour or searching I found a copy of the LA Times, but quiet places were nonexistent. I settled for a small table on a walkway between casinos. People walking by looked at me, as I sat there reading, like I was a hippopotamus. I kept thinking "I don't belong in this culture."

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Just a tiny correction, if I may: 'même', not 'meme'.

4:10 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

I am in Dovidel's camp, I haven't been at a computer in a few days ... and stuff goes crazy then subsides!

atear: I got your email and sent one back. I like I told Publius, it is nice to put a face to a name. I'll be watching rugby at Brit's this Saturday. The France vs. England game this past Sat was great fun (I was the only MN accent within 20 feet of the bar). Talking with all the French and English ex-pats can be very illuminating to say the least. The vast majority are here for work and most of those are in the medical device or 3M type industry.

WAF-ers: Speaking of education, it seems our fine state of MN is going military recruiter on us:


9:39 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Just a thought: could one of the reasons that so many Americans do not consider emigration be similar to the reason that so many battered and abused spouses don't leave? And if so, what is that reason?

One thing that is helping me to make that psychological leap is the idea that I am really part of Western civilization (whatever that is), and not just an American citizen. All of the nations of Europe (and by extension many in the Americas) are part of our heritage, and would be fine to live in. Eliminating artificial barriers to action, growth, and personal evolution is always hard, but it starts with imagining that it is possible...

People have brought up the Tiger Mom author recently, a number of times. I looked into it. She seems like an awful person, whom I wouldn't want for a mother. Perhaps the quintessence of hustling: auto or self-manipulation, and the manipulation of your children. Purposely fostering insecurity and the "never enough" desire for more. Rather sick. Is being thought of by others as a high-achiever really a "good" in the classical sense? Egad. I feel sorry for Tiger Moms and their children. There has to be some balance between that and mediocrity or apathy. I think the classical world had a much better take on what it means to be a civilized human (as Professor Berman has pointed out). Sociopathy is not a healthy lifestyle.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Metagnathous said...

From Wikipedia:

In the course of his examination of the animal world, Buffon noted that despite similar environments, different regions have distinct plants and animals, a concept later known as Buffon's Law. This is considered to be the first principle of biogeography. He made the suggestion that species may have both "improved" and "degenerated" after dispersing from a center of creation.

Well, MB, all this time I've been making a determined effort to improve, at least in terms of my thought processes; but I wonder if I haven't been heading in the other direction all the while.

As for Buffon's first principle of biogeography, our neck of the woods would seem to be the domain of the full gutter diaper, an invasive species if ever there was one. I've thought of contacting the local authorities about this environmental threat, but something tells me that they might not take me all that seriously for some reason.


12:33 PM  
Anonymous Ole Gypsy Jenkins said...

Alex Jones now agrees with Morris Berman: it's time to leave the USA while you still can.


12:35 PM  
Blogger Jarid Wagner said...

"Style is content" is insightful but it has it's shortcomings. "Style is content" could be the means of just judging people by their appearance. Perhaps a guy doesn't dress well but has a heart of gold or he's an asshole that looks sexy.

It also reminds me of the smart show about dumb people versus the dumb show about smart people comparison. Shows like the Simpsons and 3D Rock are smart shows but they are about dumb people ( Homer Simpson, Tracy Jordan). Their style is stupid but the content is intelligent. The Big Bang Theory is the opposite. A dumb show about smart people, another style/content mismatch. I agree style is content for the most part, maybe I've stumbled on a few exceptions, maybe not.

I read "Spinning Straw into Gold" recently. I liked it, it was very personal, touching and wise. The passage on dopa-mine addiction was fascinating and hit home for me. The line about how nobody could live if you just went around beating people up was good. That's what happens when life is about power.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

I read a comment recently that I think requires a post-it for my bathroom mirror...

"Never argue with an idiot. they will always drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."


"Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." —Mark Twain

who can argue with that...

2:54 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

La silence est assourdissante. Qui était Monsieur Le Comte de Buffon?

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

I can never read a reference to the 18th century naturalist without being reminded of the (perhaps apocryphal)story of the self-important bourgeois who drew himself up to a bookseller and loudly requested, "Have you the great Buffoon?"
The subsequent three centuries have, of course, determined that not even a social-climbing, pseudo- intellectual American would so much as pretend to be interested in such a volume today.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...



5:09 PM  
Anonymous Zerk said...

It turns out that Billy Crystal was right - it's not how you feel; it's how you look [And darling, you look marvelous...].

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...


Recommendation for you all, Mr. Berman. I just started watching this today, wasn't sure if it had been tossed in the mix on here yet.

- Michael

6:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,


Comment allez-vous? Clearly this Count was the right kind of Buffon!

Perhaps another slogan for a Wafer business card:

(front)Je suis Wafer
(back) Le style pour la longue

Au revoir,


6:19 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...

As far as the collapse of America is concerned, I'd like to point out something that relates to the Puritanism just beneath the surface of American culture. This is the strong tendency to seem to obsess and fret over the surface aspects of life, to apologize for having bad hair, insufficiently stylish clothing, etc. At the same time, Americans have a brazen, arrogant, careless attitude toward what really matters: social justice, solidarity, environmentalism, etc. This may give the impression that Americans have some sort of distorted conscience that sticks to the surface of things, even if this conscience is oblivious to the deeper dimensions of life. I, however, have a different interpretation.

The origin of this Puritanical fretting over the superficial aspects of life has two basic qualities: vanity and fraud. Being narcissistic by nature, Americans like to bask in the warm glow that accompanies "polite" and "considerate" public behavior - always relating to something readily visible, of course, as to attract attention. They like feeling holy, righteous and pure, and are deluded enough to think that "good" behavior on the surface is more than enough to qualify as being a good human being. But because this "good" behavior is merely an act (albeit an act Americans mistake for reality), it is also used to manipulate others - just think of American salesmen, who are all smiles and "friendliness" while attempting to get you to part with your money.

This is why Americans can be very "gracious" and "polite" in many superficial ways, all the while cheerfully supporting politicians that engage in genocide and torture as a matter of course.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle and try again. Why not: Le Comte de Buffon?

Jeff, Blair-

This Buffon was no buffoon, clearly.


I think I wrote abt Mondragon in the Twilight bk, but it's definitely gone downhill since the 1940s.


Thank you. Actually, I'm feeling a bit tired and pudgy today.


A great biologist; no buffoon.


Let's not forget Berman's Law of Buffoons: The speed with wh/a nation hits the skids is directly proportional to the # of buffoons per hectare.

Holz, Mein Schatz-

You can't seriously believe I don't know that, rt? What I *don't* know is how to get a diacritical mark onto blog text.


7:27 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

A friend said this: The US is in Afghanistan because of the need to acquire lots of heroin from there. A nation of users and losers!

UPDATE: A law enforcement official says tests have confirmed that there was heroin in at least some of the dozens of plastic packets in a New York City apartment where Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead. Officials are working to determine whether the drug was mixed or tainted with anything else.


8:28 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Rufusteena Firefly,

Thanks for the link to, “What Way Forward for the Popular Movement in 2014?” I am in perfect agreement with your “???”. I hope you don’t mind if I expand on it a bit.

A ‘popular’ movement means a movement of or with the people. Which people are they talking about? Back in the 50’s, Tom Lehr used to theorize that “the reason folk music is so atrocious is that it was written by ‘the people’.” Then in the 60’s the big question among Marxists was, “How to organize the white working class?” We used to joke that the only way was to organize them into goon squads which would go around beating up black people. This would be known as a ‘temporary accommodation to bourgeois morality’.

Hell’s bells, back then we knew damn well that no revolution was going to come from the American people!

We were overly optimistic; we got the Reagan Revolution! Sometimes being disillusioned is not so bad!

Well, that was then – and now is better? So what kind of ‘popular’ movement could we even *joke* about today? What have these OWS people been smoking? That’s my version of “???”.

It should be clear by now that the great majority of ‘the people’ are so stricken with chronic CRE that any truly popular movement in America must closely resemble a bowel movement.

David Rosen

9:21 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

MB, I read the article you linked under your preceding post, the one about Greece, and was shocked to learn that some Greek merchants have been joining up with local civic organizations that are designed to cut out the middleman. Even non-shop-owning nobodies - the kind of bums who probably don't even own any property - are also allowed to join this socialistic scheme just so they can pay less for basic goods. What's wrong with these people? Don't they know that's communism? If this dangerous Bolshevism spreads to our shores, it'll be the end of freedom and democracy as we know it for sure.

Kevin the Mad Alchemical Artist

(Sounds better than being chopped liver anyway, IMHO)

9:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sad. He was such a fabulous actor.

DR, Rufusteena-

The only revol'n were likely to have in this country is from the Right. Which has been going on in slo-mo since 1981, and accelerated as of 2001.


Nuke 'em, is what I say! Or inundate them with vats of tzatziki until everyone drowns! Honestly, any time I hear of a departure from laissez-faire capitalism, no matter how slight, I go into a frenzy of rage.


10:46 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

In semi cyber seclusion, Ive taken to reading Poe ...particularly "The Masque of the Red Death".
Poe understood the dark side. That's where we're at: a decrepit and dying culture of ignored masses; and a superclass of arrogant, greedy, apathetic revelers in cloisters of extravagence and waste.
Prospero uttered it: The external world can take care of itself.

We ( the US ) is in the violet room ...the penultimate stage.
250 years is long era for any Empire ( among any pseudo-civilizations constituted of humans ).
We are bayond the tipping point; but the question remains ...will it be an unseen 'bug' of bio-correction or the conceit of invulnerability that does the trick ?

1:36 AM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Coincidentally, I was reading Moby Dick today and this passage seems to be Melville's way of saying style is content:

"In some particulars, perhaps the most imposing physiognomical view to be had of the Sperm Whale, is that of the full front of his head. This aspect is sublime.
In thought, a fine human brow is like the East when troubled with the morning. In the repose of the pasture, the curled brow of the bull has a touch of the grand in it. Pushing heavy cannon up mountain defiles, the elephant's brow is majestic. Human or animal, the mystical brow is as that great golden seal affixed by the German emperors to their decrees. It signifies—'God: done this day by my hand.' But in most creatures, nay in man himself, very often the brow is but a mere strip of alpine land lying along the snow line. Few are the foreheads which like Shakespeare's or Melancthon's rise so high, and descend so low, that the eyes themselves seem clear, eternal, tideless mountain lakes; and all above them in the forehead's wrinkles, you seem to track the antlered thoughts descending there to drink, as the Highland hunters track the snow prints of the deer. But in the great Sperm Whale, this high and mighty god-like dignity inherent in the brow is so immensely amplified, that gazing on it, in that full front view, you feel the Deity and the dread powers more forcibly than in beholding any other object in living nature. For you see no one point precisely; not one distinct feature is revealed; no nose, eyes, ears, or mouth; no face; he has none, proper; nothing but that one broad firmament of a forehead, pleated with riddles; dumbly lowering with the doom of boats, and ships, and men. Nor, in profile, does this wondrous brow diminish; though that way viewed, its grandeur does not domineer upon you so. In profile, you plainly perceive that horizontal, semi-crescentic depression in the forehead's middle, which, in man, is Lavater's mark of genius."

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Le Bossu de Notre Dame said...

Le Bossu de Notre Dame said,

About 18 months ago there was a discussion here about bailing out.

I dont live in the US (never been there), but I recently folded my tent in the UK and moved to Eastern Europe. I couldnt afford to live in the UK on very limited funds (I'd retired).

Here my Western European income goes twice at least twice as far. I intend that this will allow me to resume my winter 3 month stays in India and travel more, albeit modestly, backpack style.

In some respects, the country I'm in is about 50 years behind western Europe -and without the hysterical buy, buy, buy all the time. Xmas here was a pleasure because of that.

Also, the country I'm in does not wage war on others. It certainly does not kiss US arse, as the UK does to the embarrassment and shame of many of the population. 3 million protested in the streets about the UKs involvement in the criminal attack on Iraq, but with Tony Bliar in charge, to no avail.

Your wafers may not know that there is a determined move to have Bliar and Bush in the Int. Criminal Court for war crimes. Bliar is hounded wherever he goes by protesters and two weeks ago a waiter made a (failed) citizens arrest on Bliar in a restaurant. People do want justice.

The malign influence of the US is everywhere and the US is the biggest agent of terror we have seen for a half century. The body count since WW2 is horrific. Of course the US is not alone - the UK on a smaller scale is as criminal.

Snowden and Assange have revealed the criminal culture at the heart of US policy as it wages war on thr world and its own citizens. James Joyce once referred to Ireland as "The old sow that eats her farrow" - could apply to the US too.

5:04 AM  
Anonymous Let Them Eat Cake said...


Wafers might be interested in this. As usual Smith is partially quoted when capitalism's proponents start bleating about its qualities. Smith really saw it like it is, brutal and amoral.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Nice Moby Dick quote! What a beautiful book. I think I know what I should reread for my bedtime reading. Such a metaphysical work. And a real prophet, was Melville! And you read books!

It's funny, I was at the pub on Saturday, actually reading, and ran into my old cell biology professor, the one who used to interrupt his biology lectures to try to tell his students that the USA was corrupt etc. And this was over 20 years ago! Anyway, we talked about Pete Seeger (he actually hung out with Seeger at college in the late 50's), politics, foreign policy etc.
He interrupted himself to ask, "Do you read books?"

I thought that was telling. He was so unused to talking to people who read books, that he actually had to stop to ask if I read books. This would not have been asked even 30 years ago...

My poor wife is at her wits end... what to do about the vicissitudes of public school, dealing with her corporate clients, etc. We just have to get out of here, whether its an internal migration to the woods, or out of this whole system.

Does anyone else sense something going wrong? Our "progressive" friends have stopped talking about politics, as though they've lost hope. Everyone seems to be retreating into despair or apathy, and talking about only shopping. At the YWCA the other day, the other parents, everyone, all they talked about was shopping! At the pub, other than my professor: shopping! One moron showed his brother-in-law a photo of his new flat panel TV on his iPhone. Not a photo of nature, or a child, or art. Get this: he called the new TV the "newest member of his family." I just about choked on my beer.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Maxwell said...

"It also reminds me of the smart show about dumb people versus the dumb show about smart people comparison. Shows like the Simpsons and 3D Rock are smart shows but they are about dumb people ( Homer Simpson, Tracy Jordan). Their style is stupid but the content is intelligent. The Big Bang Theory is the opposite. A dumb show about smart people, another style/content mismatch. I agree style is content for the most part, maybe I've stumbled on a few exceptions, maybe not."

The band Devo are masters at this détournement of the retarded(although they gleefully/cynically fill their own coffers with corporate booty). This video has to be the most succinct take-down of American consumer culture and our current vacuous malaise in pop music-


2:43 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...

A very interesting trend in American TV: portraying police officers and soldiers as compassionate, and ordinary citizens as brutal and sociopathic. This says something about how Americans think. Otherwise, these shows wouldn't be as popular as they are. Although only 1% of Americans are employed by the military, Americans think ordinary citizens are scum. Because of their arrogance, they don't realize that they themselves are ordinary citizens.

Anyone with an IQ that doesn't begin with a decimal point knows that police officers are rarely compassionate, and that many, of not most, soldiers are in fact sociopaths. What kind of culture looks up to hired killers and torturers possessing no honor as ideal human beings? I disagree with Hedges on this topic, as I don't think most cultures have the same mindless, fanatical reverence for these types of people. Sure, there are people in every culture that do this, but in America, practically everyone does this with an intensity rarely matched in human history. The only parallel examples I can think of are Nazi Germany and Genghis Khan's Mongols.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Jason Tower--very interesting idea. Some time ago I asked Wafers what was the event or just realization that things in U.S.A not what they appeared. I still think a collection of the epiphany's people have to wake up would be instructive. It could be huge like aloved one tossed in prison and discovery of the kafkaesque justice system in the u.s. or a moment of clarity like the one you describe.

A note to our friend across the Atlantic the Pom Professor David Graeber. As of today, over 250,000.00 americans signed a white house petition to ask the president to deport Justin Beiber. Senator John Warner's office issued a statement that Beiber must be deported. If this is not evidence of dolts and buffoons I am at a loss to assemble a more compelling example of the rampant idiocy in the U.S.A. Please, just think about this for a moment. The truth is indeed stranger than fiction in a nation spiralling downward...

9:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Prof. Graeber teaches in the UK, but was born in the US (as far as I know).

As for Bieber, I assume you meant to say 250,000. Can you imagine what a different country it wd be, if 250,000 Americans handed in a petition to Obama asking him to allow me urinate on his Guccis on nationwide TV?


9:25 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

The Urine Front Lives, MB! We won't get 250,000, of course, but all Wafers would sign such a "progressive" petition.


9:59 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Capo, et al.--

15, 214 signatures = "Investigate the mismanagement of the WV water disaster by the state and county officials" [petition created 21 Jan 14]

246, 578 signatures = "Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card." [petition created 23 Jan 14]


10:43 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Regarding the style-substance topic: I'm reminded of the reputed Angeleno belief that "you are what you drive." It's a philosophy for people who are about as deep as the chrome on a fender, and which can be be summed up in a bumper sticker, as befits their reading capabilities and attention span.

Tear, that quote from Melville is stunning. JS, I adore the Masque of the Red Death. Poe's a romantic genius, my favorite kind.

I bet Beiber will be better off back in Canada.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've been working on the wording of the urine petition. So far, here's what I've got:

We, the Wafer Hub Of America (WHOA!), in cognizance of the fact that the current president is a war criminal, a shil for the Pentagon and Wall Street, and an all-around piece of garbage, herewith submit this petition to the White House that the president be required to present himself at the studios of NBC in New York at noon on 1 May 2014, where he will submit to certain actions on the part of an obscure American author, currently residing in Mexico. These actions, which will be televised across the U.S. and around the world, will consist of the following:

1. Said author will take a copy of his bk, "Why America Failed," and beat Mr. Obama on the head with it repeatedly, for a total of 24 times, while chanting, "Douche Bag!"

2. Mr. Obama will then say to said author: "Thank you. But my Guccis are a bit too dry."

3. Said author will then drink a 6-pack of Bud Lite, and completely inundate Mr. Obama's shoes with urine.

Whaddyu guys think? Have I left anything out? I think we may have a winner here.


10:52 AM  
Anonymous Le Bossu de Notre Dame said...

What is appalling in all this agreement about the criminality of the US Govt and allied big business is that there's nothing to be done except to get out. This in itself is a copout.

The US, if seen as an individual, is mentally ill. The trouble is it wants to export its lunacy in the shape of bombs and bullets. If they would only attack their own then that would be fine as they (almost) voted for that.

But the rest of the world which is not armed to the teeth and driven by a Hollywood Rambo idiocy doesn't want any part of this.

China will be the balance in future. The Chinese have a very long term view of events and are preparing not to be kicked around by Uncle Sam. They will succeed as they are patient.

The problem is they are as much control freaks on the population as the US.

So I find the outlook bleak, with the danger that retreat into individualism as I have done to some degree. Society seems not to exist, which is appalling to say.

In Europe we have at least the better remnants of socialism, traduced as that philosophy seems to be. I note my web research
today which is mainly 'how to grow jasmine' and 'how to make a large new garden'. This is fine but really it's not helping to oppose the dark forces which are gathering.

I despair actually. Not good.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...


Signed both. And while I was there, a bunch more. Looks like a lot of folks actually hate Justin Bieber.

Dr. B:

Re. accent

I didn't presume you didn't know. Just thought you forgot to insert it.

James A:

A small correction, if I may:

Le silence est assourdissant.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Dr. B: More info is here:

The New York Post reports that he spent $1,000 on drugs the night before he was found dead.

UPDATE: Jan. 5 -- The New York Times has confirmed the names of the four individuals arrested in connection to Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. Authorities took three men and a woman into custody, after they recovered more than 350 bags of heroin inside their apartments.

Max Rosenblum, 22, and Juliana Luchkiw, 22, who live together in Apt. 27 at 302 Mott Street, were each charged with drug possession and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. Robert Vineberg, 57, who lives in Apt. 38 -- where the majority of the bags of heroin were found -- was also charged with drug possession and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. And Thomas Cushman, 48, who was in Apt. 21, was charged with drug possession.

Although information stemming from the investigation into Hoffman’s death led the police to the building where Rosenblum, Luchkiw, Vineberg and Cushman were, none of them have been charged with the sale of drugs and a firm connection to Hoffman has not been established, officials explained.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Jarid Wagner said...

Maxwell - that video was weird but I liked it lol. It had some mismatched style/content. One time on the Colbert Show, Devo said they used focus groups to help with their album. I wonder if that was sarcasm/irony of if they really did.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Agreed that Philip Seymour Hoffman was a fine actor in many interesting roles. I'm surprised that I've not seen anyone mention Sidney Lumet's last (and excellent) film "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." Hoffman is excellent in a very, very dark depiction of the death of America.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Monsieur Holzwege:

Je vous remercie pour la correction.

Je suis gêné par l'erreur.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

I highly recommend Prof. Berman's talk, "In Praise of Shadows."

It made me reflect on things I hadn't reflected on in a while. How in my late 20's, early 30's, I felt really out of touch with my culture, and had to retreat into nature, poetry, psychoanalytic theory, etc.
And yes, Robert Bly, who really irked the feminists.

I am recalling how Bly spent a lot of time bringing out attention to the fellow humans that we "throw out the window" in America. Poor youth, those who just don't have the financial resources to get anywhere. He was (well, he's still alive, so is) a critic of the monism of American life, that only values "success" and career, at the expense of the soul and shadow. Interesting parallels there. In general, all good poetry exposes the shadow side of existence.

One really sees the fragility of egos based on success and money.

How many prominent bankers have killed themselves in the past week or two? Something odd is going on there. Or maybe it's just normal: what is going on everyday, when fragile egos burst.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

TSA Officer threatens to shoot up airport!


5:56 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...


How do I sign your petition? And this from another prominent Mexico expat:


Le Bossu de Notre Dame,

Yes, the US is very mentally ill. A narcissistic, delusional psychopath. Fortunately, the world recognizes that and is taking steps to neutralize it.

In which country in Eastern Europe are you living? I live in Romania, after many years in the US. Many of the things you describe apply to this place as well. It’s not perfect, but if you have an income source from the West, you can live well. Here too there are still remnants of socialism, there is a spirit of community, and you can find people to have interesting conversations with. My only regret is that I didn’t leave America 10 or 15 years sooner. Email me at psychoanalyst101@gmail.com if you wish to chat.


There are many reasons why Americans won’t leave, including the Stockholm Syndrome process you mention. Then there are other primitive psychological processes at work. Introjection is one, as it applies to the idea of “identification with the abuser”. That’s why you get impoverished Americans flood into the streets shouting “USA! USA! USA!” when their government murders innocent women and children abroad. Then there’s the idea of “primitive idealization” typical of narcissists, whereby America is still viewed as the most "exceptional" spot on Earth despite all data showing otherwise. This keeps them from trying to leave. I could go on, but in general the American psyche is driven by some of the most primitive psychological processes.

No wonder Freud couldn’t stand America. And that was 100 years ago. Imagine what he’d have to say about it today!


Re. soldiers and police officers being portrayed as compassionate and the moron public buying into it. That too is a form of maladaptive introjection. I think the television and movie studios know exactly what they are doing.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

Le Bo

I agree, it isn't good... I'm living in condo hell which is driving me to new heights of wtf. Anyone want a picture of lunacy... live in one of those places... talk about control freaks... the people who run them are completely nuts... it's like living in an insane asylum only the residents "own it".... I'd get out if housing in my area were reasonable but the options are sending more of us into places that are becoming less and less affordable or in as bad if not worse living situations. Escaping the cities altogether and heading for the hills?... where hillbillies and other crazies reside or in the real boonies where you can pretty much cut out having a social life at all... which pretty much amounts to the same thing... whatever the case, most people in this country are fucked from birth...it's like the country has terminal brain damage... I noticed this at a fairly young age creeping into everyday activities like school and just the way people acted towards one another... and always thought there was something wrong with me. It was an eye opener when I learned that I was right all along that most people here are nuts and to not get too close lest you wind up being one of them. When things don't add up, when people do stupid things, day after day and expect results other than what they're getting? yeah there's trouble in river city my friend and it has our names on it...

getting out. a nice thought... the trouble is where?... I also think it’s a copout but what are the alternatives? I've talked to people who seem to sympathize but I can only figure they’re in the same boat and don't know what to do either or play Russian roulette by keep deluding themselves that things will somehow change... or that by escaping to some other temporary haven every so often might be the best anyone can hope for. It's a wasteland out there and it's like one might be able to stave off the inevitable for a while in one place and then eventually have to move somewhere else (for a while) (I just had a conversation with a friend who actually said this) This (i'm affraid) may be the NMI life for at least some of us... it's a challenge I'll say that much...

Take an early retirement and hit the road to some 3rd world outskirt of the empire? not much fun being an American where that label would be difficult to hide...and then there's the thought of finding Gringo opportunists in every nook and cranny out there...

it's a ridiculous and shameful situation to be in..I'll grant you that much.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That's kinda neat, actually. I'm wondering if the nation will go completely insane, one person at a time.


8:53 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Yes Jared, a book should not be judged merely by its cover. The point here is that surface characteristics can be a window into what lies beneath. The look in a person's eye or the way someone walks. People who greet others with "How's it going?" are unable to hold a meaningful conversation, and it's no coincidence that the first thing they vomit forth is this meaningless question (they really don't care how you are doing). Vain people understand that style is content, which is why they spend so much time on their image. Deep down they know how hollow they are, and they try to make up for it through superficial fraudulence. Vain people are not an exception to the rule, however, because an intelligent observer understands that an exceptionally manicured image is a good sign of trying to cover up substantial deficiencies.

I totally agree. Shallow and pathetic, Americans are so fake it makes me wanna puke. I finally saw The Hunger Games and found it to be surprisingly good ( I made the mistake of judging it by its cover, which is usually a good way of screening out the crap). What I liked most about it is how much effort the elite put into their image. And, like Idiocracy, seems to me it was not so much a fictional future dystopia as it was a harsh critique of the present day.

hilarious story. Almost Gonzoish even. I had a few moments: the invasion of Iraq, and the popular support for it; Bush's re-election; my disappointing involvement with OWS. But I would eventually find something to place hope in. That ain't happening again.

10:41 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

On the subject of where to live.
I had a brother who lived in rural Montana for years. He said many people would move there from the big cities of the East in search of that ineffable something.
Mostly they would fall into two groups.
Those who would find Montana just too isolated and remote. They would generally give up and move back East.
Those who found it all too crowded and congested. They would move on to Alaska.
À chacun son goût.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

I will have more to say, but, for now, I just want to provide my sincerest thanks for, MB, your voice and clarity of insight. The In Praise of Shadows talk is brilliant in its analysis. I am also now reading CTOS which will be required of my graduate students the next time I have a chance to teach a course. I just keep going, "yep. Yes. And that too."

Speaking of our cultural demise, did you see that someone called DMX is going to box with George Zimmerman? I thought it was a joke, but (silly me), it's real.

From Yahoo:

"ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Rapper DMX beat out over 15,000 other applicants for a chance to throw a punch at former Florida neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in a celebrity boxing match, according to entertainment news website TMZ."

At some point, one just becomes speechless...

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Mr Berman, not to distract from Empire in Decline discussions...

I am buying The Chymical Wedding for a friend who's enthusiastic about the subject matter. Haven't read it myself, and was introduced to it probably thru this blog. The reviews I've read for it make it out to be more novel than fictional history and I want to be just a little informed w/ context when I hand over the gift. Could you elaborate on your recommending it to the WAF-ers?

Thanks sir!


12:25 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all WAFers worldwide:

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal there was an article titled
"More Men in Prime Working Ages Don't Have Jobs" which you can access by pasting the title into a google search engine to get around the paywall.

The article now quoting directly,"More than one in six men ages 25 to 54, prime working years, don’t have jobs—a total of 10.4 million. ...Although the economy is improving and the unemployment rate is falling, 17% of working-age men weren't working in December. More than two-thirds said they weren't looking for work, so the government doesn't label them unemployed. ...the bleak prospects for the long-term unemployed—40% of men looking for jobs say they have been out of work six months or more—alarms policy makers and economists."

When you are in a hyper-individualistic society, you really are all on your own - what kind of society would leave millions unemployed and think nothing of it??

2:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I read it a while ago, so hard 2b specific. Check out description on Amazon, that shd help. It's a very absorbing read.


Given the fact that American 'culture' is a pile of shit, it's not so surprising. I'm hoping George Zimmerdouche has a go at the presidency in 2016, w/Lorenzo Riggins in the VP slot.


2:59 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Russell Brand: Philip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws

"In Hoffman's domestic or sex life there is no undiscovered riddle – the man was a drug addict and, thanks to our drug laws, his death inevitable"


3:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Glad you liked "Shadows" and are enjoying CTOS. The distributor is slowly running outta copies of the latter, and I'm actually thinking of doing a 4th edn of the bk, as a pay-on-demand. Too much work these days...


3:21 PM  
Anonymous Le Bossu said...

Thanks Bingo - I've noted your email.

Politically incorrect -

You said "Take an early retirement and hit the road to some 3rd world outskirt of the empire? not much fun being an American where that label would be difficult to hide...and then there's the thought of finding Gringo opportunists in every nook and cranny out there.."

Dont worry in the least about "being an American" etc. Most, if not all people will treat you with respect as they would anyone else; (perhaps not in drone country though!) It is well known that the US has a crazed govt but not all its citizens are that way. In fact, most (not all) US people I've met have been a breath of fresh air. Really. Take courage.

Dont worry about Gringos - leave them be and live your own life according to your values.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's an intelligent person trying to teach a very dumb public (i.e. Americans) something abt humor vs. political correctness:


Will the public learn anything from him? Of course not. Instead, they'll work themselves up into a self-righteous rage. It's not merely that Americans are stupid; I think it's also that their lives are empty and meaningless, so they welcome anything that enables them to get worked up, go into a frenzy. Me, I love to see them in action.

While we're talking abt Seinfeld, the writer of my favorite episode, Bruce Kirschbaum--the episode is called "The Conversion," in wh/George converts to the Latvian Orthodox Church--says that after the show, the LOC (not Library of Congress) sent him an LOC T-shirt. Wdn't that be cool? I'd kill for one of those.


9:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bang! Bang!



5:22 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Students at "a prestigious women's college in Massachusetts" want statue of sleepwalker removed:

See the picture of the statue here:


Does the statue hold a mirror up to these young Americans?

7:20 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good essay about a good essay about dumbing down in literature and book reviews:


and the original essay:


9:47 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Dr. B

My favorite Seinfeld scene (actually my favorite pop culture item) was Philip Baker Hall's turn as library cop Mr. Bookman. He was so good you can see Seinfeld starting to lose it in the middle of the scene.


Alas, in real life the Bookmans, such NSA's James Clapper (unindicted perjurer), seem to have taken over.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Take a look at this <a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304450904579364991108125598?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304450904579364991108125598.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories>hit piece on Putin and Russia in the Wall Street urinal.</a>
It's interesting to read, because the propaganda is so obvious. I am not claiming Putin is a saint, but come on! Russia is simply defending its national interests, and its right to have different cultural values. Yet the foreign policy elite and craven media feel the nee to go on the attack. Simply because Russia exercises sovereignty.

Prof. Berman: how can I get a job as an op-ed hack for the mainstream media? I could write this stuff in my sleep. Probably anybody on this blog could.

What is more alarming is the absolute intolerance on the part of the American elite towards sovereignty of other nations/peoples. How will this morons square their hegemonic dreams with reality of their declining power? How will they act out?

12:25 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Thanks, JWO. Regarding literary elitism, when I was in grad school I encountered a Classicist who looked down his nose at the rest of us because we read books, not scrolls.

Back to that "militant atheist" discussion and the interpretation of "militant" as "violent," I think this is a consequence of media propaganda. Anyone who uses any degree of force to defy the Empire is called either a "militant" or a "terrorist" by our court scribes. Thus the word "militant" is associated with violence.

Oddly enough, one never hears these people referred to as "The Resistance," "partisans," or "patriots" by our media.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Withold Gombrowicz said...

Slow Learner:


2:17 PM  
Anonymous politically correct said...

The sad thing about Jerry Seinfeld is most of what I've seen or heard (post "seinfeld" - the show) Hasn't been all that funny... maybe he's running dry or just doesn't care. We've collectively entered such a dark and 'unfunny' period in terms of what can and cannot be joked about that maybe he's just grasping at straws that don't fit the mold as what it's morphed into.. I'm sure it's not like he needs the money.. I mean that skit he did for the superbowl ad (that you just can't escape the interest it generated) was so lame it was if to ask:

Why Jerry, Why?

Do you know there's actually been talk of a "Seinfeld" movie?... again, why?

His audience may be getting dumber but getting down to their level doesn't help anything he's already done... especially when he gets annoyed by the whole 'diversity' nonsense... I agree with him but this is his audience that is speaking... they may be dumb but they're paying for the privilege of "correcting" his humor... I dunno what the answer is? stick to what works (whatever that is) or maybe it's time for him to do something else? as what may have been mentioned somewhere along these lines of us living in interesting (not necessarily humorous) times. People who 'get' Seinfeld shouldn't be getting tweaked by whether he considered 'diversity' in his sketches.... I mean who cares...

I suppose it would be nice to be able to be in his shoes in a way - give everyone the finger and still get paid for it... which is what all this amounted to 'intellectually speaking'... just a thought...

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...


The entire American way of life is elitist; everyone is out to be number one, at the expense of everyone else. Nevertheless, Americans, more than any other people alive today, have nerve to shout accusations of elitism at people who are simply creating art, music or literature as beautiful as they are capable of, all the while attempting to outmaneuver everyone else in a Hobbesian war of all against all. Just a little bit ironic, don't you think? It seems to me that even shouting accusations at random, well-meaning people is itself an elitist act (not to mention brutal, vicious and stupid).

On some level, Americans know they are elitist and dumb as rocks, and so use projective identification as a defense mechanism to shift blame for their own elitism onto hapless artists, musicians, and writers, as well as conceal their own stupidity from themselves. Projective identification could be said to comprise the whole of the American way of life; there's always some evil savage or internal enemy to attack, so that one can deflect any awareness of one's own shortcomings.

The essay you gave the link to reveals something very important about anti-intellectualism, namely, that it is elitist and totalitarian. Anti-intellectualism attempts to criminalize the act of genuine thinking (at its most extreme, something like "Thoughtcrime" in Orwell's book "1984"), and sets very narrow limits on what sort of discourse and creative expression is "acceptable". It insists that everyone relinquish their individual voices and become part of a mindless herd of animal-like beings, instead of developing their minds talents as best they can. Forbidding people from developing their minds and abilities in a positive, life-supporting way is about the most totalitarian, elitist thing you can do; only someone with the heart and mind of a tyrant would assert anyone's "right" to do this.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That was indeed a great episode, w/the atomic wedgie and 'Cantstanja'. Also Marion the Librarian's poems, wh/were so horrible they were frightening.


8:06 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Yeah, THIS is what we should be worried about. Christians, gun owners and the ultra-radical Tea Party movement being locked up in FEMA camps. What's sad is I can easily see the government misusing the FEMA camps, but of course 'conservatives' misinterpret the real causes for concern with their warped minds.


A few years ago I also began noticing more and more people acting... weirder. It just seemed like everybody was starting to go a little crazy, and sometimes a lot crazy. I considered whether the craziness I'd personally come across is related to all the mass shootings and the recent rise in extremist political discourse, and whether all this is related to the rise in Big Time tragedies (9/11, Deepwater Horizon, Hurricane Sandy). I don't know what to think exactly, but I suspect there is a connection. I think Hedges put it best in this article when he said, "When civilizations start to die they go insane."


I've been asking the seemingly not-so-crazy people if they've been noticing the same thing, but I don't recall anyone agreeing with me. We on this blog must have some superhuman Waferpower, the ability to sniff out insanity.

1:50 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...


Yes, you're correct. I am noticing the same thing. The people are going insane.


Guess what my friend? In game theory, it is called a zero-sum game. It means the country as a whole will lose. Competition is the disease not the answer that most Americans claim.

Dr. B

I'm not going to permanently leave. If I left, how can I ever hope to meet you in the future and enjoy pastrami on rye and turkey sandwiches together lol?

You said "As for Bieber, I assume you meant to say 250,000. Can you imagine what a different country it wd be, if 250,000 Americans handed in a petition to Obama asking him to allow me urinate on his Guccis on nationwide TV?"

My response: This has put me in a very jovial mood this morning. lol :) Actually, it might be easier than you think to get the 250,000 signatures. A lot of people hate Obama.

I think sometime next week I'm going to see God Bless America again.

This really emphasizes America's decline.


Man, this country is fucked. The fat lady has sung.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I was so excited 2 c.u. back on the blog that I peed in my pants, thus wasting the urine I was saving up for Ovomit's shoes. Well, what can ya do. Meanwhile, what're we gonna do about the shepster? Is there no way to coax him out of his lair? Look, yr in Ga., he's in Ala.; maybe u cd cruise by w/a bottle of bourbon, mellow him out a bit? As for Tim Lukeman, I have genuinely begun to worry. Tim, muchacho: r.u. there?

Talk to ya all later...mb

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...


12:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Denise's face is the face of America.


2:04 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

what does the word 'devil' means? One meaning is un-trustworthiness - you cannot trust the devil or he will devour you for lunch. That is the origin of the saying: when you eat with the devil, use a long spoon so that the devil will not eat you. The children of Afghanistan are now being eaten by the devil.


9:07 PM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Dept of China is America in Mandarin

Depression Stalks Millions in Modern China

Modern China is a psychologically taxing place. As living standards improve, social competition has become fierce. Buying an apartment, finding a spouse and supporting a family can feel like insurmountable tasks.

For more, see:


6:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Today's youth, America's future:


12:05 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

As I said before, I’m busy trying to get everything together for my escape to Mexico. I do, however, have a few minutes for a ‘ferpotchket’ post on an important matter – just to let Wafers know that I haven’t forgotten them. (Nor do I intend to – in the event that anybody cares.)

Please read the following review of a “New York Jewish Delicatessen” in New Zealand!


It may or may not convince you to try and arrange speaking gigs in NZ.

New Zealand has gotten some bad press on the blog lately, and I must say that after reading this review I still don’t know what to think about life there.

First of all I question the qualifications a reviewer who posts a picture of a corned beef or pastrami sandwich on toasted *white bread*! At least it seems to have mustard and not mayo. Then he complains about their “crap coffee”, failing to realize that the correct terminology is “schlock coffee.” (Although I do appreciate good café espresso, I am still partial to ‘brand x’ instant coffee for my morning caffeine fix.)

The fact that they serve pork, oyster, clam, and crawfish demonstrates that all dietary laws are *not* strictly observed – and they also seem to mix fleichig and milchig. Anyway, did anybody ever think of NZ as kosher?

A first rate deli maven like you will surely detect any other flaws which may exist. All in all, it’s hard to say if you would consider it “better than nothing” or not.

In any case, New Zealand does seem to have hundreds of cheap eating places – which are generally the only kind I like.

David Rosen

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...

Not to be Puritanical, but America is suffering from a huge drug epidemic. According to most people I know, literally everybody is using something. I am not in favor of putting drug addicts in prison, but there's this movement in America to legalize anything and everything. They claim that it will be good for the economy, even though doing this would only hasten America's economic, cultural and social decline. In addition to this, there is this utopian idea that legalizing drugs will solve all of America's problems; I'm not kidding, many people I know believe this.

Instead, why not try to keep people off these substances? How about giving Americans something meaningful to do? I know that because of America's culture, this is an impossibility, but it would be worthwhile simply to have a better policy, just for its own sake, instead of encouraging Americans to get high whenever they wish, however they wish. We wouldn't want the fine folks who maintain America's arsenal of nuclear weapons to get wasted and decide to blow up the entire planet in a fit of hallucinogenic awesomeness. Such a scenario is much less farfetched than people realize.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nice cartoon in recent New Yorker. It shows a sergeant leading his troops into battle. He says:

"Come on, men! This is for our kids to live in a free world! And for our grandkids to grow up in a world where they can spend hours a day looking at cats on some sort of fantastic information machine!"


6:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

American mental illness:


8:45 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Noah stated this "According to most people I know, literally everybody is using something. I am not in favor of putting drug addicts in prison, but there's this movement in America to legalize anything and everything. They claim that it will be good for the economy, even though doing this would only hasten America's economic, cultural and social decline"

I cannot wait to buy and read the book by Tiger Mom, Amy Chua. She nailed it this time:

"...the desire to live in the present has come increasingly to dominate modern Western culture, especially in America, undermining the country’s ability to live for the future. America was not always this way; in fact, as we’ll discuss, the United States was born a Triple Package country."


"The last part of “the triple package” is “impulse control”. In a dominant culture that places a premium on immediate gratification, on hanging out, on fulfilment over hard work, on expression over effort, the ability to defer, to control, to be disciplined is also part of the “package”."


9:59 PM  
Anonymous Rufus T. Schmeck said...

Dr. M.B.,

The link: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/06-1 produced a 404 error.

Am I missing something?


11:27 PM  
Anonymous The Dude said...

@Noah - I'm sorry but I really have to take issue with your blanket statements that drug legalization advocates are "encouraging Americans to get high whenever they wish, however they wish," and want legalization because it will be "good for the economy." I can't speak for all legalization advocates, but I strongly favor it because filling the prisons with drug addicts is incredibly stupid and counterproductive and because the drug war has greatly contributed to the erosion of civil liberties in this country. I don't care one whit about the supposed economic benefits of legalization, nor do I think legalization solves any problems other than preventing addicts from being treated like criminals. And so you'll know a little more about where I'm coming from, I speak as someone who suffers debilitating chemotherapy-induced neuropathy but uses his prescription painkillers as sparingly as possible despite the relief they provide for fear of becoming physically dependent upon them.

Your whole post is actually quite contradictory in that you say you don't advocate putting drug addicts in prison, but as long as drugs remain illegal the drug war will be fought. Cops will continue to bust addicts because those are very easy cases to make and help keep their arrest numbers up (this, BTW, is one of many uncomfortable truths the late, great HBO show, "The Wire," illustrated so brilliantly). And yes, you do sound Puritanical, especially with the ridiculous statement that "literally everybody is using something." I can honestly say I don't know anyone who is openly using any form of illegal narcotics, but then again I don't ask and I really don't care if they are.

12:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Schmeck J. Rufus-

Dunno what to tell u, dude; I just plugged the url into my browser and the article came up sans problems. Try again? Shift to Google Chrome?


12:46 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I'm currently reading Wendell Berry's It All Turns On Affection.

"But now, three-quarters of a century later, we are no longer taking about theoretical alternatives to corporate rule. We are talking with practical urgency about an obvious need. Now the two great aims of industrialism - replacement of people by technology and concentration of wealth into the hands of a small plutocracy - seem close to fulfillment. At the same time the failures of industrialism have become too great and too dangerous to deny. Corporate industrialism itself has exposed the falsehood that it ever was inevitable our that it ever has given preference to the common good. It has failed to sustain the health and stability of human society. Among its characteristic signs are destroyed communities, neighborhoods, families, small businesses, and small farms. It has failed just as conspicuously and more dangerously top conserve the wealth and health of nature. No amount of fiddling with capitalism to regulate and humanize it, no pointless rhetoric on the virtues of capitalism or socialism, no billions or trillions spent on "defense" of the "American dream", can for long disguise this failure. The evidences of it are everywhere: eroded, wasted, or degraded soils; damaged or destroyed ecosystems; extinction of species; whole landscapes defaced, gouged, flooded, or blown up; pollution of the whole atmosphere and of the water cycle; "dead zones" in the coastal waters; thoughtless squandering of fossil fuels and fossil waters, of moveable minerals and ores; natural health and beauty replaced by a heartless and sickening ugliness. Perhaps its greatest success is an astounding increase in the destructiveness, and therefore the profitability, of war."

4:04 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

@The Dude - I have to take issue with your rebuttal to Noah as well. I may be misunderstanding your rebuttal and if I am will you please clarify?

Issue #1: Noah said " According to most people I know, literally everybody is using something." Noah does not mean everyone in the whole universal set but within his subset or subgroup. He is using a qualifer to constrain his discourse to a certain subset of the of everyone he knows. Let's say k is equal to the subset of whom Noah knows of the Universal Set of the USA population U. In the subset k, most of the population are users is what he has stated to us. We will call this subset called k1. k1 is equal to all users Noah knows who uses drugs. Noah is talking about k1 only.

Issue #2: Noah can correct me on this but you, The Dude, said "Your whole post is actually quite contradictory in that you say you don't advocate putting drug addicts in prison, but as long as drugs remain illegal the drug war will be fought." I do not see how it is contradictory. I'm looking at the culture as a whole. I believe what Noah is saying legalizing drugs may be a step in the write direction but it is not sufficient. It is true that legalizing drugs won't solve our underlying problems but what Noah is saying is America needs a lot more. Legalizing drugs may be a step in the right direction but it won't be sufficient to solve America's problems which are ontological. Dr. B says these are conditions that could never be satisfied because of the current thought process and narrative that pervades the USA. Because of the prevailing narrative that exists in the USA today it is doltism that is the cause and drug use in the way it would be done is a symptom and because of the prevailing narrative why wouldn't it be logical to say that drug legalization would help hasten the USA's decline.

This doesn't mean that it is true that drug use would hasten the decline of any society no matter what. Let's look at the different Indian tribes that were here during the pre-colonial and colonial period. They used certain drugs to get to certain states in their practices and meditations. They controlled who used these drugs and when. In essence, winners aren't dolts and dolts don't win.

Dr. B

With regards to Shep, I know what he is going through. He has reached despair and he has lost all hope for human kind as a whole. I can see where he is coming from. We have enviromental degradation, people who are dolts especially in the USA, and history has proven again and again that humans will strip their enviroment to their last drop. One example is Easter Island. I wish there was something I could do to help the guy but I wouldn't even know where to begin. If I had his number I would just call him and we could just shoot the shit together.

With regards to Tim Lukeman, I emailed him a while back and he has not responded at all. We were having a intelligent discussions as well. It is like he dropped off the face of the Earth. I have no idea what is going on with him.

9:28 AM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

Notes on the dying empire and Americans going insane.

As the American empire thrashes its way to an increasingly ugly end, Chris Hedges has a nice interview on the persecution of Lynne Stewart, and that's what it was - persecution.

When they went after her, John Ashcroft swanned around on David Letterman et al., telling the tale of what a terrific job they were doing fighting terrorism by destroying this poor woman.

This is the same noble patriotic grifter John Ashcroft whose firm later got $50 million in a deal set up by future-inmate Chris Christie [the guv hasn't been indicted yet, but just wait].

For those who don't know, when Ashcroft became Attorney General, he was anointed with oil "in the manner of King David" by Justice Clarence Thomas in an evangelical ceremony.

Can't make this stuff up.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Sir Tagio said...

@Dan Henry, and other Wafers,

You might find Steve Ludlum's blog, Economic Undertow, very insightful and informative. Steve makes the point that what we think of as the industrial economy isn't actually "productive," at all. As soon as you step back and look not just at the "production" aspects in isolation, but the entire history of gathering the resources, use, and ultimate disposal, it is actually a "waste" economy, and the only thing that keeps it going is borrowing against future expectations of more "growth," because the "productive" activity itself is incapable of paying for itself. His number one example is The Car.

I found it a little tough going at first, because his viewpoint is so alien, but it is well worth it, IMO. A good place to start is his current post, View from the Bottom of the Energy Barrel, http://www.economic-undertow.com/2014/02/01/view-from-the-bottom-of-the-energy-barrel/

And further evidence of the O&D state of the economy/world, Yve's post today, titled "The Crappification of Almost Everything," is good.

Dr. Berman, a question for you, because I am too lazy to go look it up. In one of your books you mention a Japanese author who (if I recall correctly) is quite good (better than Heidegger) discussing the problems/failure of technology/techne. Does this ring any bells? Who is that masked man?


10:42 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Hi Y’all. Thinking of sending the following to the NYTimes in response to the stupidest, ugliest little article I’ve read there in quite a while.


Really got me stoked in its blithely casual dismissal of meaning. Any thoughts?

To the editor: Most of us know that cultural standards, like the glaciers, are disappearing; but Adam Sternbergh’s “All of the Pleasure. None of the Guilt.” (Magazine, 2/9/14) was like watching them evaporate. Sternbergh feels guilty when he chooses to enjoy low instead of high brow culture, but instead of simply removing the guilt, he wants to remove the distinction – as if real and meaningful distinctions should be stamped out of existence if we think this will make us feel better. But ignoring the real differences that form the basis for cultural standards will never make anyone feel better. All that will be accomplished is that we will lose our collective memory of the purpose standards serve and the actual realities to which they correspond. The publication of this article in the NYT indicates that we’re dangerously close to this point in our cultural devolution. Sternbergh never feels the need to mention the possible benefits of maintaining a hierarchy of standards, so we must assume that he honestly does not know of any. “(W)hy not be done with the whole idea that certain cultural pleasures are more edifying than others” or “insist that these pleasures be sorted into a moral hierarchy?” he asks. But what if some are more edifying than others? What if such a hierarchy does exist? If certain aspects of cultural life really are “spiritually harmful” or “morally detrimental” wouldn’t we be better off knowing this?

Part of being human is not just pursuing pleasures, but recognizing why different things give us different pleasures (as well as how some pleasures can cause pain) – and how our pursuit of them fits in to the larger social context. We all know, for example, that certain drugs deliver an instant wallop of pleasure. But none of us could survive in a culture where everyone pursued only this form of it because we would literally become incapable of sustaining human relationships and thus life itself. Similarly, some cultural products (books, music, images) are designed specifically to give our pleasure receptors a quick and easy blast whereas others attempt to explore the full range and meaning of human existence. This latter type ultimately rewards those willing to be stretched with far greater pleasure – and makes us more fully developed in the process. but even if we do not choose such pleasures for ourselves, why would we ever want to lessen our capacity to recognize their very existence? Does this ease our guilt?

Easy pleasures and low brow culture can be enjoyed guilt free to the extent that they do not undermine our capacity to cultivate and recognize our full range of pleasures – and responsibilities. Not that we need to dictate what pleasures people are to pursue, but it is our responsibility to preserve for each succeeding generation a full awareness of the entire range of human nature so that they can enjoy all of life’s pleasures too. If we fail in this, our pleasures have indeed been guilty ones.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,


If you haven't seen it, be sure to scroll back to a particular contribution from Capo: John Ashcroft singing "Let the Eagle Soar."

MB, Wafers-

My wife and I decided to check out the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center in LA yesterday. Four things:

1. The cost of the Endeavour, one of many shuttles, was 1.7 billion.

2. Transporting the Endeavour to its permanent location at the Science Center cost 10 million. This, while homeless beggars hit you up for money on your way into the museum parking lot and live, quite literally, under freeway overpasses throughout the city.

3. The entire frame of Endeavour is made of aluminum wrapped in heat-resistant fabric covered by millions of these little 4 by 4 inch square tiles. Each one of these tiles is made of silica (sand, essentially) costing 2 thousand dollars each.

4. One of these shuttles carried a Hubble Space Telescope (costing of 2.5 billion) into deep space in 1990 to take extremely high-resolution images of planets and distant galaxies. Astrophysicists use this data to determine the expansion rate of the universe.

After getting this very expensive glimpse of the universe, and still trying to figure out what it all means, we decided to get back to reality with a visit to Canter's.

I ordered the Brooklyn Ave: a delightful creation of pastrami with cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye with a side of potato salad. My wife had the Monte Cristo: turkey and swiss on Challah egg bread served with maple syrup. I tried to get her to take a stab at a corned beef Reuben, but to no avail. Perfect little half-dill pickles served as appetizers. We picked up a couple of cherry turnovers from the bakery on the way out.


2:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yr killing me.


3:31 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


Re: Encouraging Drug Use

If drug use hastens the decline of The Empire, then maybe it’s a good thing.

Remember, the drug is the perfect consumer product. Whereas a book of poetry demands something from the ‘consumer’, a drug demands nothing. No thought, skill, or ability, of which fewer and fewer Americans are capable, is required.

As far as the people who maintain America’s nuclear arsenal are concerned, I hear that many are Christian fundamentalists looking forward to the Apocalypse. Maybe we’d all be safer if they were stoned out of their heads.

Finally, the argument that legalization of anything amounts to encouraging people to do that thing is a bizarre one indeed. Are you saying that everybody’s choices should be written into law so that only those choices that somebody (who?) decides to ‘encourage’ would be legal?

I could be wrong about this and perhaps expecting intelligence and sanity from Americans is ‘elitist’. After all, America is an insane country, so maybe it should function as a lunatic asylum.

David Rosen

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...


I haven't had much time to post here lately, but I just wanted to say that your letter to the editor was excellent--entirely spot on. I read the article it was a response to, and I have to agree with you that it was simply grotesque. I can't believe that this is the sort of tripe our "intellectuals" are spouting these days! Good lord, talk about the perfect postmodern, Kali Yuga manifesto!

The funny thing is that he's a bit mistaken with his whole "guilty pleasure" thing. Do Americans really feel guilty about not having finished "Moby Dick", or "The Brothers Karamazov? (Or about much of anything, for that matter?) Well, maybe 16 out of the 700 or so literate people in this country do! And in regards to them, he's more or less taking on the role of Homer's Circe, saying, "Don't sweat it guys, just eat whatever pleases you--yum yum!--and never mind if it transforms you into swine!"

Anyway, great job with your response. Nevertheless, if this is what supposedly LITERATE people think nowadays, I can only imagine where the rest of the country must be!

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...



7:11 PM  
Anonymous Noah said...

Dovidel, Cube, The Dude,

My view of drug use has nothing to do with people making choices for other people. It has to do with my desire to prevent crime, poverty, and death by drug overdose. All laws involve making choices for other people; drug laws are no different. When we make murder illegal, we are deciding, for everyone, that killing people will not be tolerated. I don't see why we should tolerate drugs, consider what they do to people and to society.

Nevertheless, I don't think we should imprison drug users. Instead, they should be sent to treatment facilities that help them get clean.

The Dude,

Just because something is illegal doesn't mean it's punishable by imprisonment. Some illegal actions only merit small fines, anger management classes, etc. My idea is that drug addicts should be sent to drug rehab facilities. If you want to call me Puritan, go ahead; I don't care. I am only interested in doing what is best for these drug addicts. You should consider looking at this issue from the same angle, instead of looking at it as some assault on peoples' "freedom". Speaking of freedom, drugs take peoples' freedom away; drug users all too often become slaves to their addictions. Therefore, preventing drug use is actually an act of liberation.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Maxwell said...



Robert Louis Stevenson, Stanislaw Witkiewicz, Coleridge, Freud, Keats, Melville, endless musicians..not even scratching the surface here.

anti-drug people

nancy reagan, rudolph guiliani, busy-bodies throughout american history

3:37 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

There was some guy the other day in the US who beheaded his son for being Satan or something.

RD Laing said that some mental illness was a response to a sick society.

I have always been engaged with politics and society but to my shame I'm becoming tired a little bit.

Yes I know the warning signs "You may not be interested in politics but politics is interested in you."

MB says that Russia is not what he had in mind re fucking off somewhere.

Absolutely right. But don't jump from the frying pan into the fire but THINK a bit! Research. Plan.

For me it was less complicated as I left one EU country for another. I now live for halfthe price which lets me travel each year to India or wherever. In my case, Spain, where I walk big walks of say 1000 kms on the Camino de Santiago. I am however an atheist.

1:58 PM  

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